The Boston Celtics’ miserable luck in the NBA draft lottery continued Tuesday night, but majority owner Wyc Grousbeck remains optimistic ahead of an important period in his team’s rebuild.
“We’re good with 6 and 17,” Grousbeck said during a Wednesday appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “We’re good with our pick next year, wherever it is. And the Clippers unprotected No. 1, thanks very much for that, Doc Rivers. We’ll make this work.”
The C’s had a 33 percent chance to win a top three selection, but instead drew the No. 6 pick. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the lottery for the third time in the last four years despite having a 1.7 percent chance of getting the top pick.
The 2014 draft class is deep and has impressive talent at the top, but there’s no sure-fire superstar that will instantly turn a team’s fortunes around, such as a Kevin Durant, LeBron James or Tim Duncan. The top three prospects, according to just about every expert, are Duke forward Jabari Parker and Kansas teammates Joel Embiid (center) and Andrew Wiggins (forward).
The Celtics won’t be in a position to draft any of those players at No. 6, and while there will be quality prospects to choose from in the bottom half of the top 10 (including Kentucky’s Julius Randle and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart), the smart move is to trade the pick for an established star. None of the players selected from 5-10 will make the Celtics a legit contender over the next two seasons.
When the Celtics got the fifth pick in 2007 after expecting a top two selection, they traded it to the Seattle SuperSonics as part of a multi-player package for all-star shooting guard Ray Allen. That deal helped convince Minnesota Timberwolves superstar Kevin Garnett to accept a trade to Boston later in the summer. The result was a 2008 NBA Finals triumph and another championship series appearance in 2010.
We could see general manager Danny Ainge take a similar route back to the league’s elite this summer. One name dominating the rumor mill over the last week is Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, who at just 25 years old is already a top 15 player with a complete offensive game. Love can become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015 and Minnesota might be forced to deal him before next year’s trade deadline to avoid the possibility that he leaves for nothing as a free agent.
Love is reportedly “open” to playing for the Celtics if Minnesota does trade him, which is good news for Ainge. A tandem of Love and point guard Rajon Rondo would be a great starting point for the Celtics as they build another championship-caliber roster. Acquiring Love would cost multiple assets, but unlike Allen and Garnett in 2007, the Minnesota superstar hasn’t hit the prime of his career yet. His best years are still ahead.
Tuesday’s lottery was a familiar nightmare for Celtics fans, but Ainge still has plenty of options with the No. 6 pick. He could select a good player to add to the team’s talented young core, or trade the selection and expedite the rebuilding process by acquiring an established star.
No team has more quality trade assets than the Celtics when you factor in their roster and surplus of future first-round picks.